No Comment — February 14, 2008, 7:14 am

Donne – ‘Love’s Alchemy’

f_howard

Some that have deeper digg’d love’s mine than I,
Say, where his centric happiness doth lie;
I have lov’d, and got, and told,
But should I love, get, tell, till I were old,
I should not find that hidden mystery.
Oh, ’tis imposture all!
And as no chemic yet th’elixir got,
But glorifies his pregnant pot
If by the way to him befall
Some odoriferous thing, or medicinal,
So, lovers dream a rich and long delight,
But get a winter-seeming summer’s night.

Our ease, our thrift, our honour, and our day,
Shall we for this vain bubble’s shadow pay?
Ends love in this, that my man
Can be as happy’as I can, if he can
Endure the short scorn of a bridegroom’s play?
That loving wretch that swears
‘Tis not the bodies marry, but the minds,
Which he in her angelic finds,
Would swear as justly that he hears,
In that day’s rude hoarse minstrelsy, the spheres.
Hope not for mind in women; at their best
Sweetness and wit, they’are but mummy, possess’d.

John Donne, Love’s Alchemy (1598)

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Editor's Note

Many comedians consider stand-up the purest form of comedy; Doug Stanhope considers it the freest. “Once you do stand-up, it spoils you for everything else,” he says. “You’re the director, performer, and producer.” Unlike most of his peers, however, Stanhope has designed his career around exploring that freedom, which means choosing a life on the road. Perhaps this is why, although he is extremely ambitious, prolific, and one of the best stand-ups performing, so many Americans haven’t heard of him. Many comedians approach the road as a means to an end: a way to develop their skills, start booking bigger venues, and, if they’re lucky, get themselves airlifted to Hollywood. But life isn’t happening on a sit-com set or a sketch show — at least not the life that has interested Stanhope. He isn’t waiting to be invited to the party; indeed, he’s been hosting his own party for years.

Because of the present comedy boom, civilians are starting to hear about Doug Stanhope from other comedians like Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, and Louis CK. But Stanhope has been building a devoted fan base for the past two decades, largely by word of mouth. On tour, he prefers the unencumbered arrival and the quick exit: cheap motels where you can pull the van up to the door of the room and park. He’s especially pleased if there’s an on-site bar, which increases the odds of hearing a good story from the sort of person who tends to drink away the afternoon in the depressed cities where he performs. Stanhope’s America isn’t the one still yammering on about its potential or struggling with losing hope. For the most part, hope is gone. On Word of Mouth, his 2002 album, he says, “America may be the best country, but that’s like being the prettiest Denny’s waitress. Just because you’re the best doesn’t make you good.”

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